Timeline: A Short and Sweet History of Fake Meat

How we became obsessed with the quest for the perfect faux animal protein.


1896:

John Harvey Kellogg, a member of the mostly vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists, creates a peanut-based “meatless meat,” Nuttose, which becomes popular at sanitariums. He goes on to popularize cereal as an alternative to egg- and meat-heavy breakfasts.

jorn harvey kellogg

Corbis

1931:

In his essay “Fifty Years Hence,” Winston Churchill writes, “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”

1933:

Seventh-day Adventists found Loma Linda Foods, which makes some of the first commercially available soy- and wheat-based fake meats.

loma linda foods

Loma Linda Foods

1967:

British scientists discover Fusarium venenatum, a high-protein fungus.

1981:

Oregon restaurateur Paul Wenner shapes leftover vegetables and rice pilaf into patties and sells them as Gardenburgers.

1994:

UK-based Quorn introduces fake meat made of Fusarium venenatum.

1995:

A struggling vegetarian food manufacturer called Turtle Island Foods sells 500 Tofurky Roasts. By 2012, 3 million have been sold.

1998:

Gardenburger sees sales surge after it airs a 30-second, $1.5 million animated commercial featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson during the Seinfeld finale.

1999:

Boca Burger ratchets up ad spending from $500,000 to $4 million; Worthington Foods (which acquired Loma Linda) pours $5 million to promote its FriPats and Choplets. Gardenburger boosts spending to $18.2 million.

2002:

Burger King introduces the BK Veggie Burger. McDonald’s, which sold nonmeat burgers in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and India throughout the ’90s, launches a US version the following year.

Quorn hits US shelves. The American Mushroom Institute complains that fusarium is not in fact a mushroom. Quorn later removes the phrase “mushroom in origin” from its packaging.

2008:

PETA offers a $1 million reward to the first laboratory to create a commercially viable in vitro “chicken” product by 2012.

2009:

The Cornucopia Institute finds that most nonorganic veggie burgers on the market are made with hexane, an air pollutant and neurotoxin.

2011:

A report that Japanese scientists were working on turning human feces into steak turns out to be, well, bullshit.

2011:

The New York Times claims the veggie burger has become “a bellwether for the American appetite.” Today, a patty of hickory-smoked quinoa and lentils costs $14 at New York City’s Blue Smoke restaurant.

2012:

PETA extends its lab-grown meat contest deadline to 2014.

Market research firm Mintel reports that although only 7 percent of consumers call themselves vegetarian, 36 percent report using fake meat.

July 2013:

Fast-food chain Chipotle introduces tofu “sofritas.”

sofritas

Chipotle

August 2013:

Dutch scientists make the world’s first lab-grown burger from cow muscle cells, fetal calf blood, and antibiotics. In a live-streamed tasting, the patties are pronounced “close to meat” but “not that juicy.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate